My arrival into Puebla, Mexico is heralded by the view of the majestic Popocatépetl and Iztaccihuatl volcanoes, and brings me towards the end of my journey from London to Cholula, Mexico. Having arrived into Mexico City at 4am, it has been a long journey, but one that I have been looking forward to for quite some time. Even when applying to study at Manchester (which feels like a lifetime ago!), studying in Mexico was a vague possibility, that has suddenly become very real in the last few months, and even more so in the last 48 hours!
My first day is a whirlwind, with a long walk to shake off the inactivity of 15 hours travelling, and to explore a bit of Cholula: the place I will call home for the next year. Cholula is known for having 365 churches – one for each day of the year, and while I’m not a church-goer, their beauty here is unrivalled, and I’m interested to see how many I can tick off the list this year! 15 minutes into my walk, Templo de San Juan Aquiahuac emerges, painted in bright yellow and decorated with papel picado (literally ‘pecked paper’; colourful paper bunting adorning churches all over the city). The area is full of families going about their Sunday day out, surrounded by the shouts of food stalls selling all kinds of goodies: chicharrón (pork), deliciously sweet mango and watermelon, tamales (corn and meat wrapped in husks and steamed), elotes and esquites (corn) which are pretty hard to resist. The blazing sun and altitude of 2200 metres above sea level make for an exhausting first day, but one to stave off the jet lag (for a few hours at least).
Moving to Mexico is in many ways like starting uni all over again, making new friends and learning new things about your new home, which is daunting, exciting and exhausting all at once. Since finishing second year, Mexico has always been in the back of my mind, – and now here I am. I didn’t have any particular expectations before coming, simply to experience living somewhere new, travel far and often across Central America, and to immerse myself in Mexican culture and Spanish language. It’s going well so far – with 6 people squeezed into my housemate’s car, we sped along the highway to visit Atlixco, a beautiful colourful town filled with a bustling flower market in the zócalo (main square).
Chatting away in Spanish distracted us from the struggle of the climb up to the summit at Mirador Cerro de San Miguel: a beautiful bright yellow church perched on the very top of the hill, overlooking the town below. Although overcast (of course the weather is, for once, better in the UK) the views of Atlixco were stunning, and this was a pretty wonderful first day to kick off the start to my year of seeing and doing as much as possible here in Mexico.